Taline Gabriel's take on kid's health
We had the pleasure to chat to Taline Gabriel, on all things kid's health! She shared her take on how to approach her children's diets as they grow up! A truly wonderful read- Taline also touches on a beautiful yet sad feeling, that we're sure many Mum's go through- the stage where your little babies, who you took great care for, start to grow in to their own, and become more independent. As a Mum, that feeling of not being needed as much starts to kick in and finding the right balance is hard, take a look at Taline's story below.
Read till the end because Taline has shared a delicious and nutritious BLUE smoothie bowl recipe, which features our Hivita Liquivita for Kids which Taline incorporates in to her daughter Camille's smoothie for a nutritional boost of 30 ingredients!
I have been thinking about this topic recently, on my kids, their health and their nutrition and how it's changed and evolved since the early days.
I get asked a lot about what my children eat and how they stay keen for healthy gluten free, natural food. And specifically, a lot of questions about what they take with them to school in their lunchboxes.
Seb is turning 10 in December, and Camille is 7 next week. I just can't believe how quickly that's gone by. Those who know me well know how much I enjoyed the baby phase. I openly mourn the days when they were tiny, chubby and all mine and get super excited when my friends have babies so I can reminisce on those precious newborn days.
I mourn the babies they were. I mourn that simplicity. Their lightness in my arms, their sticky hands around my neck, the way that I could always make everything better. Their concerns, so small. As they grow, it's harder to get it right as a parent. They have bigger concerns, some that you can't make better. Their preferences change, and some go against all that you value.
I go through stages where I feel like I actually want to have another baby just so I can experience it all over again, and then common sense kicks in and I realise that escaping the grief by having another baby is prolonging the inevitable. Ultimately, it comes down to acceptance. Acceptance, that with time, babies grow to become children and then adults, and that my missing my Seb and Camille as babies is a process that needs to be felt and moved through, and the understanding that another child will not help me overcome my sense of loss.
With that said, there is so much positive that comes with their growing and maturing. For mothers, you now have some longed-for freedom. With the children at school, a space opens up for you to get back to you again. As prams and baby bags become a thing of the past, self care is now a priority as you long for what you've been missing pre-kids and bring it back with a vengeance. Oh how good is this.
I also like to look at the big picture - our decision to bring children into the world and what that looks like. Raising children to become well rounded, responsible, conscious and community contributing adults is a blessing and a real honour, a responsibility that I value so much and do not take for granted. When I look at it in this way, I really feel a huge sense of joy for the unique little beings that they are, that they are becoming and this makes my heart so full and happy.
I will say, though, that no amount of rationalising and positive reframing will relieve you from what you feel so deeply in your heart. Loss and grief over living people is real, I have felt it lingering for years as I witness my children growing in size and stature, and also in becoming more autonomous. At the core of it, there's a loss of control, as your children start making decisions about their needs and wants which can often be in total contrast to how you wish for things to be.
To be totally honest and transparent with you, as my two have grown from infants into school-age children, it's become much more challenging to keep them keen for health foods.
Till the age of 5-6, I can safely say that I was able to lead the way when it came to what my children ate every day.
From about 2 years of age, for Seb, and from birth for Camille, both were gluten and dairy free and eating lots of vegetables, fruits, and wholegrains. Smoothies, breakfast oats, buckwheat toast, quinoa porridge, brown rice and bean dishes, lentils, soups, and grass-fed organic meat and wild caught fish was how it rolled. Packaged food was not an option, as I knew once it started, it was a slippery slope. Refined sugar was not a thing, unless they were at the grandparents house, and that's when I literally had no control. All in all, things went well. My kids love home-cooked food, and so it worked.
Fast forward to now, and I would say that, particular for Seb, my eldest, maintaining a 100% whole, gluten and dairy free diet has become a challenge. It's his feelings around why he eats differently from his friends and school mates and why he can't have what they have that is the main hurtle for us. I would say his appetite for our usual meals at home is much the same, but it's his feelings of deprivation or 'difference' that causes him the most stress.
So over the last year, as I noticed the change in his attitude toward healthy eating, I've been more relaxed with what I allow / don't allow. This was after a period of tug-of-war between us, and the realisation on my end that he is growing and maturing, and with that comes his need to make his own decisions, to regulate his personal needs and desires, and that it was now my turn to take the back seat, so to speak.
I've had to re-align my personal agenda which has always been what I believe is best for him nutritionally and reconsider what is important (if not, crucial) now - his mental health and overall happiness.
There's no point chasing the nutritional benefits when the chase is causing stress. I know too well how stress can impact your quality of life, and no amount of well-ordered eating is going to make up for the mess that stress creates. So with increasing his need for normalcy or how he puts it, "eat like a normal kid", I've needed to move toward the middle, and meet him halfway in allowing more space for his needs and preferences to be fully considered.
So I'll break it down below with a comparison on how it was when they were younger and how it is now. You will notice that most of the main meals (breakfast, lunch and dinner) have remained the same or close to. This is because they still love these meals. The main differences will be noticed in snacks and weekends meals.
The obvious changes are evident in choice of snacks, and on the weekend, where I let them have what their hearts desire.
When you do this for a job, like I do, and you so strongly believe in the power of nutritious wholefoods, it's really hard to watch your kid makes random choices with his food choices. I've had to relinquish the control a little, or a lot, actually. I knew intuitively that this was the best way forward for my son, and also for my daughter who will probably start asserting her need for independence (any day now). I guess it's just the mother-child dance that is always in swing, with varying rhythm and pace, through the lifecycle.
The way that I see it is if they eat well at home and with school lunches, then I've set them up with a good foundation. When we're out, they get to choose what they like (with boundaries). I've had to adjust my expectations, as being too strict with the conditions was contributing to retaliating behaviour from Seb in particular, and it just wasn't working. For example, Seb really loves goat's cheese so he has this a few times a week. I let gluten-free slide once or twice a week, and just let it be. FYI. We are sensitive to gluten, not coeliac, so gluten in small doses doesn't cause major issues. It's not ideal, so gluten doesn't enter the house. If they want a dumpling when they're at yum cha, or a dish at Thai has gluten in the sauce, I'm relaxed about it.
This slight shift in approach still allows for a healthy foundation but also gives the children autonomy with decision making which I hope will lead to less issues around food.
I've had to step back (a number of times) over the years, and look at the situation with a fresh pair of eyes. If something is not working, you need to make adjustments. Having a narrow-minded view that involves overriding the needs of your children by staunchly pushing your own agenda and values creates stress and unnecessary difficulties for you and everyone around you. Opening your mind to allow an alternative plan and point of view is really important. When you realise that making changes in how you approach the situation does not cancel out or devalue your beliefs and values, you soften, and this allows for a practical rethink of the situation. You can now, without defence, witness your own behaviour and ask yourself if you are allowing space for things to be or if you are fighting for control.
My take-home tip for mums with young children is to feed your children healthy when they're super little. Let them become accustomed to enjoy the taste of natural wholefoods. I haven't had an issue with healthy meals as they grew a taste for it from a young age. They also learn from you, so if you're clean with your choices most of the time, you will choose the same for them, and it just becomes a lifestyle thing. If you're not eating wholefood meals, they won't be either. It starts with you.
I have adjusted my expectations, loosened the reigns and allowed for more freedom of choice for both children. Now, how do I ensure I am providing them with the support they need to meet their growing nutritional needs?
Here are my tips for keeping them healthy:
- A solid breakfast lunch and dinner which include a variety of natural, organic wholefoods. This includes as many variants of vegetables as I can get in. I achieve this by grating carrots and zucchini and adding to pasta sauces, mixing peas and beans through their rice, and making lots of veggie soups with ginger, turmeric and an abundance of veggies - they love this.
- A Kid's vitamin supplement in liquid form is a good way to ensure your kids are getting their nutritional needs. I use HiVita Liquivita to fill in any nutritional gaps. My kids love the fruity taste, and I love that it includes a range of 30 active ingredients, including Vitamin B's, Vitamin C and Zinc which is essential for immunity, as well as magnesium for a good night's sleep. It contains no sugar which is a real plus.
- Every few months, I stir through a kids probiotic in their breakfast, to keep their immunity in tune. There are lots of probiotic bites and supplements available also, if you aren't so keen on mixing their probiotic in their meal.
- I give my children Omega-3 oil tabs healthy brain development. Supplementing the daily intake of DHA can help support healthy brain function and healthy learning.
- I use essential oils on their body and in their diffusers to keep them focussed, calm and in emotional balance, which support their physical and mental health immensely.
- I educate my children on the benefits of keeping healthy, by highlighting the potential to keep them well and strong, and I frequently discuss the importance of keeping their guts (tummy) healthy to prevent illness and tummy aches.
- I take my kids to the produce market and encourage them to cook with me and/ or help out in the kitchen. This raises awareness and allows for a positive association to wholefoods.
- Make the food your serve visually appealing. Children, like adults, are attracted to beautiful colour so make their breakfast pop with an array of fresh fruit and healthy bowl toppings.
- Lots of physical activity - we go on long family walks, spend heaps of time at the beach and at local parks. Nature therapy and physical activity keeps their mood elevated. I find they are most resilient and are more likely to choose healthy options when they are physically challenged.
This has been my personal experience. Adjusting your expectations is what really makes the difference. What has helped me incredibly in this process is accepting that I have done all I can with providing a positive start with their diet and nutrition, and the knowing that I have dedicated time and effort in providing the best that I knew how, for both children. Once you've done that, you have to let go. SURRENDER.
Hopefully this helps you navigate the path to health with your children.
Here is the recipe for the Blue Smoothie that Camille made on iGTV recently. A good breakfast option or after school snack.
Kid's Blue Power Smoothie
- 1 x frozen banana
- 1 x frozen zucchini
- 1 tbsp cashew butter
- 1 tbsp chia seeds
- 1/2 tsp cinnamon
- 1-2 tsp Hivita Liquivita
- 1/2 cup coconut milk
- Add all ingredients to the blender,
- Whizz till smooth (use blender stick if necessary)
- Scoop into your serving bowl, top with fruit or toppings of choice and serve.